As promised, the views of the spanking-new Vancouver Marathon 2012 course were magnificent. From gorgeous tree-lined neighbourhoods of Cambie and West 49 (imagine running underneath leaves of green and deep red), to the forest of Pacific Spirit Park (even spotted a raccoon!), and finally a stunning cityscape with a backdrop of majestic mountains and immensely gorgeous ocean view along the Stanley Park Seawall (although, having to run against the strong sea breeze from KM 31 to 38 was really challenging!). Words can't even describe how breathtaking it was! I really regretted not having a camera with me, for serious.
And to finally have a clear, sunny Spring morning after three days of rain? I truly felt blessed :)
Malaysia & Shoe4Africa reprezent!
As for the race itself, I must give major snaps to the superb support from the crowd and volunteers. Although not as massive as the NYC Marathon, the Vancouverites who did come out never ceased to cheer us on.
But I gotta say that the killer rolling hills from the start through KM 14 were B-R-U-T-A-L. There even was a time when we were forced to go up up and up for almost 6K's straight (from KM 8 to 14), steadily climbing about 100m of elevation! This, of course, totally messed up my rhythm. And, worse still, the steep downhills was the beginning of my ankle trouble which stayed with me till the very end.
The calm before the storm...
So, how insane is it that I actually made a friend while walking to the starting line all because we wore the same Running Skirt? ;)
To make matters worse, my tumtum also started acting up early on in the game, but I refused to let it get in the way of my race. I was, however, very worried about how it would react to GU gels but thankfully my tumtum held up and eventually got better.
Just when I thought nothing else could go wrong, for the first time ever in a race I experienced cramps in my calves... At KM 39, no less! This was a major letdown as it prevented me from doing sprints towards the end. In the last mile or so, the cramping became so intense that it threatened to force me to quit running but I knew I had to just HTFU if I wanted a sub-5 finish.
So you can imagine my delight when I heard the emcee announcing my name and "4 hours 59 minutes XX seconds" as I was crossing the finishing line. Did I really make it?
Another metal to add to my collection. FYI I've got five 42K medals so far ;)
Sadly, not according to the result page. Next to my details, the chip time read 5:00:28. I am absolutely gutted :( Why oh why does the official distance (read: NOT my Garmin's reading) have to be 42.59K? That extra 300-or-so-meters robbed me of my second sweet n' sublime sub-5 finish, man!!! =P
Oh, well. Despite everything that happened today--coupled with my most challenging 42K campaign by far courtesy of (1) the return of an old injury to my right ankle in January, (2) my introduction to ITBS in February, (3) a course of antibiotics no thanks to a persistent cough, as well as a crazy gastric attack in March, and (4) spraining my already injured ankle just two weeks ago--I survived and for that I am truly thankful.